This is something exciting. Over the next few weeks, Steiner Sports will be working with PJ Clark, a young memorabilia enthusiast, in showcasing PJ's "Collecting Tips & Tricks" to help Steiner Sports' younger audience fuel their passion for collecting. I had the chance to talk with PJ about his hobby.
Brandon Steiner: When did you start collecting?
PJ Clark: I have been collecting as long as I can remember; I can't really put a date on it.
BS: How big is your collection? Do you collect from all sports?
PC: I’ve got a pretty big collection. I’ve got all sorts of items from all different sports. I collect cards, memorabilia and autographs from all major sports, as well as NCAA football and basketball, golf, and even boxing.
BS: What’s your top three favorite items?
PC: My favorite and coolest item is a Babe Ruth autograph, which my Great-Great Uncle got at a party while Babe was a coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The autograph is on a card which also contains the autographs of Notre Dame football legend Jim Crowley, one of the Four Horsemen, and championship boxer Jimmy "Cinderella Man" Braddock.
Some of the more recent items I’ve gotten would be my Steve Nash autographed Suns jersey, a Ryan Callahan game-used 2011-12 Rangers stick which I got through Steiner Sports, and my Cal Ripken Jr. autographed McFarlane figure, which was one of my first autographs. I was lucky enough to meet Cal and get his autograph at a Meet and Greet hosted by Steiner Sports a few years ago.
BS: How do you determine a great signature versus an average one?
PC: I look for a bunch of things in a really great signature for my collection. If I can find two of the same or similar items of the same player for my collection, I am going to look very closely into comparing the two autographs and determining which one I would rather have.
An example of one thing I look for is streaking or bubbling. A great example of this is when I received a TTM (through the mail) autograph from Rays player Ben Zobrist. I sent a Topps Chrome card and a basic non-glossy Topps Archives card. The non-glossy card had a beautiful bold autograph with no streaking at all, whereas the Topps Chrome card has a very bubbled and streaky autograph.
A second key thing I look for is detail, or a basic eye appeal test. I would rather have an autograph that was very detailed and nice to look at than a scribbled one. Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez is a perfect example of. His autos from 2011 are very detailed and legible, but his 2013 autographs are just "JF.” One positive of Jose's 2013 autograph is that he added a jersey number "16" inscription. I am a big fan of inscriptions, even basic ones such as a player's number.
BS: What athletes would you like to add to your collection?
PC: There are really too many to count at this point. Some bigger names I have on my list are Nolan Ryan, Mike Trout, Gregory Polanco, George Springer, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers, Johnny Manziel, Magic Johnson, Kevin Durant and Barry Sanders. I hope to knock off at least a couple of those names at this year's National Sports Collector’s Convention in Cleveland!
BS: What’s your goal with the Tips & Tricks series? What are you looking to show other collectors your age?
PC: My goal is to spread the autograph and memorabilia collecting hobby to more kids my age and to show people how they can start, improve, protect, and add to their collections!
BS: Thank you, PJ.